Thursday, 17 June 2010
a chorus of disapproval
the retirement age here in France is to be raised from 60 to 62, with predictable howls of outrage from unions and, regrettably, from Martine Aubry, leader of the Parti Socialiste, who has opposed it and referred to the "right" ("droit") to retirement at 60. What world are they living in? France has among the highest life expectancy in the world, largely because of the unrivalled excellence of its health service. To give examples: I am 56 and in good health but am "suivi" (looked after) by an ophthalmologist, a podiatrist and a gynaecologist as well as having a GP and receiving mammogram and bowel cancer testing free as part of a national programme. My mother, in the UK, is nearly 82 and has never consulted an ophthalmologist. You can get your teeth whitened here on your "carte vitale" (health card which entitles you to treatment) and there are no waiting lists for anything, except sometimes dentistry, depending on where you live. I had varicose veins when I got here in 2007, not life-threatening at all, but they have been removed to give me a better quality of life, especially in the summer. People live a long time here and perhaps more importantly they live in better health than in other European countries. France also has among the lowest participation in the workforce by over-55s of anywhere in Europe. You do the math, as the Americans say. I expect and hope not to retire until I am at least 70.